Derailed: Eastern entry development
By Express News Service - KOCHI
25th June 2012 10:02 AM
Despite the ongoing developmental works with regard to metro rail, the Eastern entry of the Ernakulam Junction station still remains out of track.
The passengers who enter the station through the second entry are left in the lurch, with most of the basic facilities lacking at the eastern gate. According to sources, the failure of the Railways to acquire the eastern entry block from the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) has led to the neglect.
“The railway officials say that they cannot develop the station because it does not come under their jurisdiction. But this is wrong. According to an earlier proposal, the Railways was supposed to acquire the eastern block from the GCDA,” said Viju Choolackal, general secretary of Karithala Poura Samithi.
It was in the middle 1990s that the then GCDA chairman had initiated the proposal to set up the eastern entry block.
“As per the proposal, the GCDA would rehabilitate 35 families who were residing in the area that has now been converted to the Eastern entry block. After that, GCDA would build a complex, which would be taken over by the Railways as part of the Ernakulam Junction Station’s extension,” he said.
However, despite all the measures taken up by the GCDA, the Railways had refused to take over the area because the cost put forth by the GCDA officials was 12 crore.
“The Railways refused the offer, citing the inadvertently high amount. Ever since, there have hardly been any measures from the railway authorities regarding the takeover,” said Railways sources.
However, sources site that the Railways’ claim of incurring huge losses was baseless as there were many methods to recover the money they would invest into the Eastern entry. “For example, as per an RTI, the Railways were paying over `30,000 worth rent for various engineering offices which have been set up at various parts of the city. There is sufficient space in the building to house all these offices under one roof. The Railways won’t have to spent unnecessary rent. At the same time, they can start many shops and other facilities which will help them gain the money,” Viju said.
Meanwhile, GCDA chairman N Venugopal said that they were planning to rent out a certain area of the building to the Public Service Commission, since the building is remaining vacant.
“The Railways has not yet approached us in this regard. Also, we are not willing to give away the land unless the Railways give us a fair price,” Venugopal said.
According to Railway sources, the Eastern entry, once developed will be extremely beneficial especially since 80 per cent of the Kochi population arrive at the railway station through the eastern entry. Also, the presence of five roads connecting the Eastern entry gives this area the edge over the main entry of the railway station.
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